Homelessness Report Release | City of Ideas

Posted 02/23/2017 by Rebecca Koepnick, Senior Director, Neighborhoods and Housing



  • Doubling in Family Homelessness, but recent dip: The number of families receiving Emergency Assistance has more than doubled in the past nine years, an increase that is among the highest in the nation.
    • But the past two years show a dip in the number of families entering the system.
  • Families are homeless longer:  Families are staying in shelter almost 100 days longer now than they were three or four years ago.
    • Large families, and families of color stay in shelter longer
    • Families in shelter in Boston stay the longest of families across the state
  • Recently-less than 1/5 of families are returning to EA system:  Although the pattern is not clear, generally families are returning to shelter less frequently who entered the system more recently.
    • On average across the time period examined, an average of 17% of families returned at least one time in a three year period.  Families entering in FY2011 had the highest rate of return (20%) and families entering in both FY2012 and FY2013 had the lowest rates of return in a three year period (14% and 13%, respectively).
    • Families are also significantly more likely to return to shelter if they were previously in a congregate shelter.
  • Majority of families stay in shelter temporarily and do not return:  66% of families remained in shelter relatively briefly (6 months) and did not return.
  • A very small number of families return to the shelter system multiple times and stay for long periods of time:   Only 2% of families had multiple stays in shelter and stayed for over 2 years.
  • Families that enter the shelter system generally receive more resources from other homeless assistance programs than those that are “diverted” from the shelter system.
  • Though the data are tentative and based on only a few years, Seattle/King County homeless families are experiencing shorter stays in shelter, in part due to the system: 30% of its homeless assistance to rapidly rehousing families versus Boston (which dedicates 1%).
    • In Massachusetts, assistance with rehousing (HomeBASE) is generally provided only following a long shelter stay.

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